Entertainment & Arts

Gregg Allman film: Director charged over crew death

Randall Miller
Image caption Director Randall Miller was present at the accident in February, and was pulled to safety by fellow crew members

The director of a biopic about singer Gregg Allman, and two of the film's producers, are facing involuntary manslaughter charges.

It follows a fatal train crash on the film's set in south east Georgia in February, which led to the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones.

A grand jury charged Randall Miller, producer Jody Savin and executive producer Jay Sedrish on Thursday.

Jones, 27, was hit by a train on the first day of filming Midnight Rider.

Seven other crew members were injured in the incident, which saw the camera assistant fatally struck after the crew placed a bed on the railway tracks in Doctortown while filming a dream sequence.

It is understood the crew were expecting two local trains to pass through, but a third had arrived unexpectedly. A warning whistle was blown, but they had less than a minute to remove the bed from the track.

Image caption The biopic was based on musician Gregg Allman's autobiography My Cross to Bear

Miller, Savin and Sedrish are each charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass, according to a statement from local district attorney Jackie Johnson.

The prosecution alleges film-makers had "unlawfully and without authority" entered onto the railway tracks "after receiving, prior to that entry, notice from the owner thereof that such entry was denied".

It remains unclear whether the crew had permission to be on the tracks. Local police investigators say they did have permission to be on property nearby.

The manslaughter charges against the film team could bring a possible sentence of 10 years in prison under Georgia law.

Image caption William Hurt, who was to star as Allman in the film, pulled out after the train accident

In a statement, Jones's father, Richard, said: "[My wife] and I are comfortable that the authorities were both careful and meticulous in investigating and bringing charges related to the incident that took our daughter's life.

"We must allow the criminal justice process to proceed unhindered. Our mission remains the same: to ensure safety on all film sets. Safety for Sarah."

In May, Jones's parents sued the director, producers and other entities affiliated with the film including musician Allman.

The civil case claims film-makers "selected an unreasonably dangerous site for the filming location" and failed to take actions to adequately protect the crew.

Filming on Midnight Rider was suspended in the aftermath of the train tragedy, and actor William Hurt - who was due to play Allman - pulled out of the production.

More on this story